Cooking and catering is like anything else, in that fashions and trends come and go. I love finding out about new food trends, the best restaurants and discovering new ways to present and prepare my dishes. However, there are also some things I always come back to in my cooking as my favourite ingredients, and no matter what is in fashion at the time, these are as timeless as any little black dress.
I have always loved cooking with a range of spices and I’m inspired by the subtle differences and new directions I can take a dish with a simple tweak. I am particularly fond of using Moroccan spices in my cooking as they are both aromatic and give my dishes such a beautiful colour.
In particular I love turmeric not only for its colour but also for its health benefits. Turmeric is a staple in Indian cooking and I feel it connects me to my own Indian heritage each time I use it. The antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties of turmeric may be enough to increase blood flow to reduce the risk of Alzheimer’s disease, and there have also been studies in which turmeric reduced the growth of cancerous tumours. While turmeric doesn’t cure cancer, it shows indications of preventing skin cancer, leukaemia, breast cancer and pancreatic cancer.
Turmeric can also have a positive effect on cholesterol, reduce the severity of viral infections such as the flu and cause blood sugar levels to drop in those with diabetes.
I am always looking for ways to elevate my dishes and offer that little bit more than you might find from someone else. A great way to do this is with another of my favourites, salsas and sticky chutneys. A salsa is anything you can make with fresh ingredients to spoon over a dish as a fresh finishing touch. Adding a chunky tomato and olive salsa to a meat dish sets it apart from just another weeknight dinner, as well as adding some relief and contrast.
Chutneys take a bit more time to prepare than a salsa but can be used in the same way. Once you have a few jars of your chutneys on hand you can spice up a chicken dish or stir through a curry for added richness.
We all have our favourite ingredients that we keep going back to because of special memories attached to them, or because they can always be relied upon to lift a dish and a meal with new memories.
Until next time.
Cindy Westphalen owns and operates Cindy's Classic Gourmet, an award winning South Australian based wedding and event catering business.